On Monday (10 April) Egyptians officially ushered in Spring. The festival -- called Sham El?
On Monday (10 April) Egyptians officially ushered in Spring. The festival -- called Sham El Nassim or 'the Breathing of Fresh Air' -- follows the Eastern Easter and la the only national event of its kind celebrated by both Christians and Muslims.
Although both religions strived to break all ties with pagan Pharaonic Egypt, the festival echoes many ancient rites practised 3-thousand years ago. People go out into parks and open spaces to honour Spring by eating eggs -- symbol of the renewal of life, lettuce -- symbol of fertility and strength, and green onions as a precaution against disease. Ancient Egyptians refrained from eating fish in the summer for health reasons. Instead they salted it in winter and ate it in the spring. The feast of Sham El Nassim often demands more fish than the country can supply.